Tag Archives: CVC

My granddaughter can read small words, but she stumbles over bigger words when we read together. How can I help her?

Here are some tips to help with bigger words:

  • If you are reading for sheer enjoyment, anticipate the words she might not know and say them quickly, so she can keep reading and not lose her thought.  Don’t worry that she might not be learning new word attack skills in your reading session; she is learning other aspects of reading such as fluency and comprehension which are often hard to learn when she stops to consider every new word.  Also, if she is tired or ornery, this kind of reading lesson gets her to read without causing frustration.grandparent reading with grandchild.
  • But if you are reading with your granddaughter to help her decipher words, and if she is in a receptive mood, you might cover parts of the word (usually syllables) and then uncover them, so she can join them together.  For example, if the word is “continent,” cover the “tinent” part with your thumb and let her say “con.”  Then cover the “con” and the “ent” parts and let her read “tin.”  If she mispronounces “tin,” pronounce it correctly.  Then cover all but the “ent” and let her figure out those four letters.  If she can put it together, fine, but if not, you do it while covering and exposing parts of the word as you say it.  Then move on to another word.  The goal should be to teach her a method of figuring out words, not mastering every word you encounter in a particular lesson.
  • If you own the book, and don’t mind marking it, you could highlight every word she can read correctly.  She will see that the number of words she can read far outnumbers the few she can’t.  You might ask her what she notices about the words that are not highlighted.  She might say, “They are long,” or “They have lots of letters.”  Tell her there are ways to figure out those words just like there are ways to figure out three-letter words, and you will work with her on those long words.
  • A good place to begin is with compound words.  They can be easy to decipher if the child looks for small words inside big words.  Try some with her such as “pancake,” “popcorn” and “forget.”  Make a list of such words and let her be the detective, discovering the small words inside the large words.  Have her circle each of the small words and then pronounce them together.  Some words you might use are:compound words are small words inside big words
  • Some longer words have pronunciation rules that are easy for a child to remember.  For example, if a six- or seven-letter word has double consonants in the middle (biggest, kitten, flabby), that means the word usually has two parts, or syllables, and the first syllable ends between the “twin” letters.  (Use the word “syllable” since this is a term your granddaughter will need to learn anyway.)  Phonics books sometimes refer to these words as VC/CV or CVC/CVC words since they generally have short vowel sounds in both syllables.  You could practice a handful of those words, writing them on notebook paper for your granddaughter to pronounce.  Choose words whose letters follow the rules of phonics so she is not confused.  Have her draw a line between the double consonants and then pronounce each syllable.  Some words you might use are:"twin" letter words have double consonants in the middle.
  • Some other six- or seven-letter words have one vowel near the beginning, another vowel near the end, and two or three consonants in the middle.  These are a variation on VC/CV or CVC/CVC words with twin conconants.  Show her words like “contest,” “nutmeg” and “insect.”  Explain that the words have two syllables, and that the first syllable ends between the two consonants.  Have her draw a line between the middle consonants and then pronounce each syllable.  Some words you might use are:two syllable words with vowels in the first and last syllable

Our blog will have more on how to teach multisyllabic words in the near future.  Let us know if you find this information useful or if you have particular problems teaching your child reading.  We will investigate for you and offer the best advice we can find.  –Mrs. K and Mrs. A

How do I teach CVC words that end in –ck and words that end in –ook without confusing my son?

When a child is learning to read, and is at the short vowel, one-syllable, consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) word stage, the child often encounters words from the word family –ook (book and look, for example) or words that end with –ck (sock and truck, for example).  Strictly speaking, these word don’t follow the CVC rule for pronunciation, so they should be taught separately, starting with the –ck family words.

CVC words that end in _ch and _ook.

To enlarge, click on the picture.

Usually there is no problem reading CVC -ck words once the child understands that –ck is a single sound.  But reading, pronouncing and spelling the –ook words can be a problem.  How can you help your child?

"I know that word, Mom," says the child lookinFirst, wait until your child is comfortable with CVC –ck words (see list above) to explain this difference.   Teach the CVC words that end in –ck first and make sure the child understands how to read, pronounce and spell those words.  Then introduce –ook family words.

  • Point out to your child that the –ook sound is not the same as the short –ock or short –uck sound.  Say the sounds aloud so the child can hear the difference, and ask the child to say the sounds too.  Don’t show letters at this point since it is the sound that guides the child as to which letters to use.  The child needs to be able to hear the difference.
  • If you have pictures of words that end in –ock (clock, dock, flock, knock,), in -uck (buck, puck, suck, tuck, truck) and –ook (book, cook, crook, hook, rook) you could create a set of flash cards for the child to sort by sound.  As the child sorts, ask the child to pronounce the word to be sure she is hearing the word correctly.
  • Tell your child that after a word with the –ook sound, just a “k” is used, as in book and look, two words the child might already know as sight words.  You could create a set of flash cards with the –ook family words on them and use them as sight words if that helps.
  • If you have letter tiles, practice moving them to show –ook family words and ask the child to read them after your example.
  • When the child seems comfortable with the difference in sound, practice moving tiles to show the difference in spelling.  For example, construct l-o-ck, and under it construct l-oo-k.  Say each word and ask the child to tell what he notices.  Do the same with other word pairs such as cr-o-ck and cr-oo-k; h-o-ck and h-oo-k; r-o-ck and r-oo-k; and t-o-ck and t-oo-k.
  • Practice moving tiles so that just one word—lock—appears.  Ask the child to pronounce it.  Take out the -ck and put in –ook and ask the child to pronounce the new word.  Keep moving tiles around until the child grasps the correct pronunciation of each word.
  • When you are reading –ck and –ook words, reinforce the spelling.

At this point the child usually hasn’t learned how to read long vowel sounds, so there is no need to add to confusion by introducing words like bake and smoke now.

My child is struggling to learn short vowel sounds. What can I do?

As a temporary help, you could create word lists or flash cards using color-coded letters for the vowels.

Colors for vowel soundsIn Tutoring is Caring, Montessori teacher Aline D. Wolf suggests printing the letter representing the vowel sound in a particular color to help the child remember the sound.  She suggests using colors whose name has the letter sound that the child is trying to say.  So for example, short e words would be written with red e’s.  Since vowels are the most difficult sounds for the child to master, the color would alert the child that the colored letter is a vowel, and the color would also give the child a clue as to the letter’s pronunciation.

The colors Wolf suggests are

  • Red for the short e sound since red’s vowel sound is short e.
  • Rust for the short u sound since rust’s vowel sound is short u.
  • Silver for the short i sound since silver’s vowel sound is short i.
  • Tan for the short a sound since tan’s vowel sound is short a.
  • Olive for the short o sound since olive’s vowel sound is short o.
  • Black for all consonants.

Wolf says it is important that the child recognize the colors using their specific names.  If a child sees olive and says green, then the clue that the sound of “ol” gives would be lost.  She recommends beginning with “e” and then “u” because they are easier.

Wolf wrote her suggestions in 1981, before personal computers, so today we have other options.  Using a computer, it is easy to duplicate these colored letters in words, just as using crayons or colored pencils makes it easy by hand.

Another suggestion she makes is to use broken lines for silent letters, a signal to the student that the letter is necessary but it is not pronounced.  This is easy to do if you are handwriting the letters, but I could not find a broken letter type face on my computer.  However, the computer offers other options such as outlined letters or highlighted letters, either of which could indicate silent letters.

With her lists of color-coded words, Wolf puts a drawing of a word that begins with that letter at the top of the list as an extra reminder of the letter sound.  So for short e, there is a drawing of an elephant; for u, an umbrella; for i, an igloo; for a, an alligator; and for o, an olive.

Cautioning that color-coding is a crutch, Wolf says it should be used as long as necessary, but that gradually the child should be weaned from the colors.  For children who don’t need the extra boost that colored letters give, they should not be used at all.

How to wean a child?  Wolf suggests that the child could match color coded words with the same words printed in black.  Or the child could match words printed in black with objects around the house or at school such as milk, pan and egg.  The child could also match words with pictures.

Mrs. A describes how she illustated Dad Won’t Let Go of Meg’s Yo-Yo

Illustration used in the book app

Illustration used in the book app

Like the characters in Play, Pop, Play, the characters in our new ebook app, Dad Won’t Let Go of Meg’s Yo-Yo, are based on real people.  As an artist, I find it helps to imagine someone I know when I am drawing.  My brother-in-law, John, is one of the funniest people I have ever met, both in his words, and in his over-the-top gestures!  He is the role model for the father in our story.  His daughter, Meaghan, (Meg) is a sweet, forgiving girl like the birthday girl in our story. Meaghan’s older sister, Rachel, unfortunately for our purposes, has a name that can’t be easily decoded by beginning readers, so we changed Rachel to Jen.  Rachel looks out for her little sister, and sometimes reminds her Dad to settle down if he is getting too enthused. 

An early version of an illustration for Dad Won't Let Go of Meg's Yo-Yo, not used in the book

An early version of an illustration for Dad Won’t Let Go of Meg’s Yo-Yo, not used in the book

My early sketches (I am attaching one here) look so simple compared to the final drawings that comprise the book.  I try to put many details into each page of art, so that a child reading the book has lots to notice and discuss.  Somehow a mischievous cat sneaked into this story too! 

Although there are many yo-yo tricks (around the world, side winder, boomerang, and sleeper), none of these are C-V-C (one-syllable, short-vowel) words. The challenge for us in composing Dad Won’t Let Go of Meg’s Yo-Yo was to find a way to show the tricks yet use simple words.  Instead of around the world, our book says, “spin the yo-yo.”  Instead of side winder, we say “jump the yo-yo.”

Most of us can do the simple up and down motion of a yo-yo unless the string is too long.  And THAT is the premise of our book: Dad delays cutting the string so little Meg can’t play with her yo-yo. Maybe I should call this book a memoir.  It reminds me of being a little girl, and of having a bigger, taller and smarter brother (or so I thought at the time), who was also a master of the yo-yo.  Like the Dad in Dad Won’t Let Go of Meg’s Yo-Yo, my brother would sometimes torment me, showing off his yo-yo prowess, until—SPOILER!  I almost away gave the ending.  You’ll have to read our latest book to find out what happens!

Also, to see some mighty nice yo-yos, go www.yo-yo.com and www.yo-yoplay.com

My child can read basic words. What kind of literature skills should s/he have for kindergarten?

Most states have adopted a common core of standards now used to teach and to assess children’s learning at each grade level and in academic subjects.  Included in these standards are ones for kindergarten reading which include understanding literature, informational texts and reading skills.  Those standards are

kindergarden literature skill standards

Go to http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/K for more on the common core of standards.

Key Ideas and Details

  • With prompting and support, the child should be able to ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • With prompting and support, the child should be able to retell familiar stories, including key details.
  • With prompting and support, the child should be able to identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.

Craft and Structure

  • The child should be able to ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text
  • The child should be able to recognize common types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems).
  • The child, with prompting and support, should be able to name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • With prompting and support, the child should be able to describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).
  • With prompting and support, the child should be able to compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

  • The child should actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

For more information, go to www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/K

Mrs. K and Mrs A publish another beginning reading book

Mrs. K and Mrs. A have published our third children’s book app in three months!  Play, Pop, Play, our latest book app, resembles our prior book apps, Not a Lot on Top and Look, Babysitter, Look.  All three are written in easy CVC words for beginning English and ESL readers and have hilarious drawings featuring a little kid to attract young readers.

Play, Pop, Play iTunes App

Go to http://goo.gl/JMrT3 for more information.

In Play, Pop, Play, little Tom wants his Pop to play with him—tucked under a table, splashing in a tiny swimming pool, and pumping high on swings.  Pop tires out and wants to nap, but Tom keeps going until—well, you’ll have to read to find out.

Several activity pages follow, all using the simple vocabulary and events of the story.  Unlike paper workbook pages, these app pages are interactive, encouraging the beginning reader to draw lines with electronic crayons, swipe words in a word search, and number the story events in sequence—appropriate reading skills for new readers.  Then—poosh!—the child can erase and start over, or save, or email her work to Grandma.

Play, Pop, Play is available for $1.99 on Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods.  To preview or to buy this book, go to http://goo.gl/JMrT3.

Also, check out Not a Lot on Top at http://goo.gl/ClVyM, and Look Babysitter, Look at http://goo.gl/K1HcU.

Mrs. K and Mrs. K and Mrs. A publish second beginning reader book app: “Look, Babysitter, Look”

Mrs. K and Mrs. A have published our second children’s book app for beginning English readers and beginning ESL readers, Look, Babysitter, Look.

Book app for iPhone and iPad.

Available for iPhone and iPad at http://goo.gl/K1HcU

The story of Look Babysitter Look follows the antics of a little girl who cannot sleep while her clueless babysitter talks on the cell phone.  The pictures are funny, the words are easy and the cost low–$1.99 for the book and activity pages.  The book was designed as a fun method to attract beginning readers using phonics—mostly short-vowel, one-syllable (CVC) words.

Look  babysitter look sample activity page.The activity pages resemble workbook pages except that they are interactive, which delights kids.  A child can write a letter in a blank with an electronic crayon, circle words in a word search, fill in simple crossword puzzle words or draw lines to match drawings that rhyme.  All the activities are appropriate for a beginning reader and pertain to Look, Babysitter, Look’s characters and theme.

Right now Look, Babysitter, Look is available on Apple products through iTunes books but we expect it will be available on android products.  To preview the book, or to buy it, click on http://goo.gl/K1HcU.

Also, check out our first book, Not a Lot on Top, at http://goo.gl/ClVyM.